It’s the command center for your nervous system. It contains roughly 86 billion nerve cells. And it weighs a little more than a pineapple.
But if everything is functioning correctly, then you hardly notice it. It’s the human brain, and its fascinating complexities will be on display during a hands-on, family-friendly exhibit on Saturday.
Edinboro University’s Psychology Club and the Psychology Department are hosting “Brain Awareness Day” from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. by the Macy’s Court at Millcreek Mall. Field experts and university students will be on hand to showcase the intricacies of the brain and host crafts for all ages.
“The brain is unique,” said Dr. Peter McLaughlin, professor in Edinboro’s Psychology Department and organizer of the annual event. “It truly is who we are, and it's so important to keep it healthy. It's also crucial for the public to be aware of how brain research improves lives.”
Children of all ages and their families are invited to participate in the free events, which include games, hands-on activities, candy and crafts. As part of the fun, children will join a dozen EU psychology majors to make candy neurons while discovering different parts of the brain cell. Elementary-aged children are invited to decorate brain-themed hats to take home.
Middle school and high school-aged students will challenge their own brains through a series of optical and auditory illusions. All attendees will receive goodie bags filled with information about mental and brain health – and how to stay sharp as you get older.
The goal of “Brain Awareness Day” is to increase understanding of the brain with relation to behavior, inspire careers in neuroscience, improve awareness of mental health issues and promote healthy lifestyles. McLaughlin said the event also provides service learning for Edinboro students studying to become psychologists.
“It's a big task, but Edinboro students are always up to it,” said McLaughlin, who is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and former Edinboro University Scholar of the Year. “Not only do they jump at the chance to interact with the public – especially children – but there's no better trained group. EU has given them the understanding of how the brain relates to human behavior, and they have been trained in the research methods we use to learn these things.”
Founded in 2009, “Brain Awareness Day” at Millcreek Mall attracts nearly 300 visitors each year, McLaughlin said. This is a crucial step in bringing awareness of brain science to the public.
“Many people come to the mall specifically to do our activities, but a very large number of attendees are people of all ages who happened to be shopping and stop by our event,” McLaughlin said.
The worldwide Brain Awareness Week connects scientists and educators with families, schools and communities. This year’s campaign was scheduled from March 12-18 across the country. With participating Edinboro students on Spring Break during that week, the official EU “Brain Awareness Day” was switched to March 3.
The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives launched the global program to raise awareness of the benefits of brain research. The week of activities and presentations is co-sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience.
For more information about the local “Brain Awareness Day” activities at the Millcreek Mall, contact McLaughlin at (814) 732-1787 or visit the official Brain Awareness Day at the Millcreek Mall Facebook page.
With logo: Edinboro University 2018 Brain Awareness Day – Saturday, March 3